Court Affirms EC’s Power to Allocate Party-List Seats

A recount in Nakhon Pathom province on April 28, 2019.

BANGKOK — A top court on Wednesday ruled that the Election Commission has authority under the constitution to determine how to allocate MP seats.

In a 9-0 ruling, the Constitutional Court confirmed the commission has the power and responsibility to decide the method used to distribute 150 party-list seats in parliament.

The ruling could pave the way for the commission’s latest proposal to grant party-list seats to parties that failed to receive the minimum number of votes currently required by voting laws. The opposition parties have slammed the formula, saying it’s undemocratic and may favor small parties allied to the military regime.

Under the proposal, even minor parties with just over 30,000 votes will secure a party-list seat. The commission set the threshold at 71,000 votes before voters went to the polls in March.

A former member of the Election Commission has warned that such a proposal would go against the constitution and only lead to legal challenges.

“If the Election Commission does this and some party sues, it’s the right of the party to so,” Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said by phone today.

Somchai, who’s now a Democrat Party member, claimed the ruling does not give the commission a blank check to go ahead with its controversial new formula of equating 30,000 votes with an MP seat.

“They cannot [come up with a formula] that is against the constitution,” he said.

The threat of legal action already surfaced today. In a petition submitted to the commission, the Future Forward Party said it will file challenges if officials insist on the new quota.

Future Foward, which placed third in the March election, is set to lose up to eight seats if the proposed quota comes into effect.

Official election results for party-list MP seats are expected to be released by tomorrow.

Additional reporting Teeranai Charuvastra